Car of the Year 2009: No. 3: BMW M3

  • Photograph by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
    Photograph by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photograph by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
    Photograph by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photograph by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
    Photograph by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photograph by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photograph by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photograph by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
<< Back to Robb Report, March 2009
  • Gregory Anderson, Paul Dean and Marco R. della Cava

Shifting Gearboxes
The BMW M3 is the dark horse that almost took this year’s title. None of our judges expected the top-level 3 Series to blow them away with its perfectly balanced combination of engine performance, handling prowess, and what can only be described as the best automated shifter on the planet. BMW’s long-reviled sequential manual gearbox is gone, replaced in our test vehicle by an optional, super-smooth double-clutch transmission. Forget manual shifting; with this transmission, awestruck passengers will never sense even the slightest hesitation in acceleration or driveline lunge during every perfectly executed downshift. The M3’s only drawback is its less-than-grown-up size and demeanor. But with this much fun to be had for a base price of about $60,000, who wants to grow up? —Gregory Anderson

 

Perfection Within Its Clutch
By any measurement of value, by any parameter of performance, BMW’s new M3—whether in the form of a sedan, a coupe, or a convertible—delivers more dash for the dollar than any high performer in the middling-five-figure price range. Our judges left no doubt as to the principal reasons for their general delight: an optional double clutch mated to an automated manual 7-speed transmission devoid of any shift shock, and, finally, after more than two decades of inline sixes, a V-8 tuned to generate a useful 414 hp at an incredible 8,300 rpm. The sum of all these parts is a flat, crisp-handling, comfortable, flexible vehicle that has all the moves of a rally car—and remains far removed from pedestrian realities. —Paul Dean

 

Paddling the Competition
This newest iteration from the BMW Motorsport division’s popular series is endowed with a robust 4-liter V-8 that makes a slightly larger power-bulge in the hood than does the uprated inline 6-cylinder engine that equipped the car’s predecessors. Add to this a set of optional 19-inch wheels, low-profile tires, and a snarling four-pipe exhaust, and this M3 has earned serious bragging rights.

But wait—there’s more. This year, the M3 is available with BMW’s 7-speed double-clutch automatic transmission, which takes paddle-shifting to a new level. Not only does the double-clutch version blow away the company’s often balky SMG automatic transmission, but it equals the smooth performance of the Porsche and even challenges Ferrari’s place on the paddle-shifting throne. —Marco R. della Cava

SPECIFICATIONS:

Configuration Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe/convertible
Engine 4-liter V-8
Transmission 7-speed double-clutch automated manual (optional)
Power 414 hp at 8,300 rpm
Torque 295 ft lbs at 3,900 rpm
Zero to 60 4.5 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph
Base Price $59,025 (coupe), $67,475 (convertible)
Price as Tested $72,795 (coupe), $75,025 (convertible)
Robb Report Rating 98.7
BMW, www.bmwusa.com

From Around the Web...
Lamborghini Huracán RWD Spyder
The recently released raging bull is a wilder ride than its all-wheel-drive counterpart…
Infiniti’s QX80 Monograph concept.
Revealed at the New York Auto Show, the vehicle displays the marque’s enlightened exterior design…
Porsche Design Tower Miami
We head to the opening of the Porsche Design Tower Miami for a ride in the famed Dezervator…
The 2015 McLaren P1 GTR being offered at the RM Sotheby's Villa Erba sale.
A McLaren P1 GTR, a Ferrari LaFerrari, and Porsche 918 Spyder to be offered at Villa Erba sale…
The Fittipaldi EF7 VGT by Pininfarina
The coachbuilder teamed with renowned racer Emerson Fittipaldi to create the carbon-fiber...
Jaguar and Bentley are among the marques charging ahead on all-electric cars and concepts…
The Callaway Corvette Aerowagen Shooting Brake
The performance package gives the car 757 hp and a rear hatch…
The Rickman Revival Velocette
The three-day celebration of beautiful bikes will also feature a Wall of Death stunt show…
The Audi R8 LMS GT4
Based off the R8 Coupe, the car will be eligible to compete in motorsports’ GT4 category worldwide…
The Mercedes-AMG S63
The full-size flagship gets a redesigned interior, new engine, and improved autonomous technology...